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Best Things To Do in Porto

Porto is perfect to visit during a long weekend; its facades, tiles and river views need nothing more to captivate the traveler.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

7 min read

Best Things To Do in Porto

Panoramic view of Porto | ©Daniel Sessler

You must keep in mind that Porto is a city to live it: a meal by the river or some wines in any of its terraces will be a must. These are the 10 things you should not miss to see and do during your visit to Porto.

1. Discover the center of Porto on a guided tour

Stroll through the picturesque streets of Porto| ©Rubén Marcos
Stroll through the picturesque streets of Porto| ©Rubén Marcos

A solo stroll through the city will undoubtedly be one of the most enjoyable experiences during your visit, but leave time to do the same Porto sightseeing tour in the company of a local guide.

The size of the city may make it easier for you to discover its corners on your own, but it will be someone who knows the city who can reveal its secrets, its history and its way of life. If I could only recommend one activity to do during your trip, it would be a guided tour of the city center.

Book a guided tour of Porto

2. Visit the surroundings of Porto

Santa Barbara Gardens, Braga| ©Pedro
Santa Barbara Gardens, Braga| ©Pedro

Another good thing about the city of Porto is its location. From there you can get to know other corners of Portugal in comfortable day trips and thus return from your trip with a more complete view of the country.

You can do this by renting a car, but a more comfortable way is to hire organized excursions from Porto in which you will be accompanied by an expert guide. There are excursions such as those to Guimaraes and Braga, those that take you to Aveiro or the popular tours of the Duoro Valley.

Many of them will also include experiences such as a cruise, a typical Portuguese lunch, wine tasting, etc. You can book any of these options online. Here is my list of favorites: Best Tours and Day Trips from Porto.

Book an excursion from Porto

3. Take a cruise on the Douro River

Stopover on the Douro River Cruise| ©Gerry Labrijn
Stopover on the Douro River Cruise| ©Gerry Labrijn

Sailing along the river that runs through a city is always a different way to approach it; a way to escape from the stress and crowds and simply dedicate yourself to contemplate the city in a relaxed and unhurried way. If you want to sail on the Douro during your trip to Porto you have two options: do it on the part of the river that runs through the city or take an excursion to the surroundings of Porto and travel along the river from there.

Book a cruise on the Douro

4. Enjoy a sightseeing bus tour

Sightseeing bus through the streets of Porto| ©Alquiler de Coches
Sightseeing bus through the streets of Porto| ©Alquiler de Coches

Although the tourist bus seems to be an option that many travelers overlook for considering it "too touristy", personally I find it a comfortable way to take a walk around the city escaping from walking and high temperatures.

If you dare to try it I recommend the option of booking your ticket for the tourist bus, which also includes a river cruise and an optional wine tasting. With a 24 or 48 hour pass you can take the bus as many times as you want and from as many stops as you want.

Reserve a seat on the sightseeing bus

5. Taste the Portuguese gastronomy

Typical francesinha| ©Filipe Fortes
Typical francesinha| ©Filipe Fortes

Personally, I have never (as far as I can remember) visited a place where I have not been interested in its gastronomy and typical dishes. Porto has not only not been an exception, but on this occasion I didn't need to look too hard, since in one of the gastronomic tours of the city I was able to try all the typical dishes. Some of the most familiar dishes that you will be able to try in many of the restaurants in Oporto are:

  • Francesinha: it is a sandwich with bechamel sauce that I recommend you to share with someone if you want to leave room for the rest of the meals of the day.
  • Cod: in Portugal you can try it in all its forms.
  • Natas: the famous Belem pastries from Lisbon, in the Porto version.
  • Bifanas: a characteristic sandwich with marinated pork.
  • Soups: order the house soup and let yourself be surprised.

6. Taste the local wine

Enjoy Port wine| ©Bonnie
Enjoy Port wine| ©Bonnie

If gastronomy is important in Portugal, even more so is its wine tradition. Port wine in particular is famous all over the world, so it would be a sin to visit the city and not try it in one of its many bars. I recommend that you let yourself be recommended by the waiters and try the different varieties, but beware of the green wine that can be treacherous.

If in addition to the idea of sitting on a terrace overlooking the river to drink a glass of wine you want to know more about this tradition, I recommend a wine tasting in the cellars of Oporto and surroundings.

Book your visit to a winery

7. Visit the Lello bookstore

Lello Bookstore| ©A wandering minstrel
Lello Bookstore| ©A wandering minstrel

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter books, you don't need to read any further because you already know this bookstore that inspired its author.

Whether or not you like the stories of the most famous wizard of all time, the story of J.K. Rowling is exciting; if you visit the bookstore during a guided tour ask your guide about it.

Visiting the Lello bookstore is a must for all book lovers in the city of Porto. And a great idea if you are traveling to Porto with children.

8. Climb the Clérigos tower

Clérigos Tower| ©Edgar Jiménez
Clérigos Tower| ©Edgar Jiménez

In all cities there is a privileged point to contemplate them from the top, try to locate its main monuments and take a thousand photos to realize that none equals the live view of the landscape. In Oporto the best place for this is the Clérigos tower.

It may cost you a little to climb its 200 steps, but I assure you that you will not easily forget the mosaic of Porto's rooftops that you will see from the top. The 5 euro entrance fee is well worth it.

9. Experience the local life at the Bolhao Market

Bolhao Market| ©Matt Kieffer
Bolhao Market| ©Matt Kieffer

If you're looking for a tourist market, rule out this visit. The Bolhao market is an authentic Portuguese market and what you will get is a close look at the daily life of the city. Its appearance may seem decadent at first glance, but you will find authentic local products and beautiful flowers along its streets. Don't be in a hurry to finish walking around and stop to observe the details.

10. Walk around the Ribeira neighborhood

Ribeira neighborhood| ©Fred Bigio
Ribeira neighborhood| ©Fred Bigio

Finally, my recommendation is to walk around that place that remains etched in your mind several months after finishing your trip to Porto: the Ribeira neighborhood. Possibly you will pass by there at some point during your trip, but my advice is, once again, to reserve at least a couple of hours for a leisurely stroll along the riverbank admiring its colorful houses and, of course, for a drink in one of its outdoor terraces.

Of all the places in Porto, this is my favorite and, although the preferences of each traveler are different, I doubt that, regardless of your tastes, it will leave you indifferent.

In addition, in this area there are usually some improvised fado shows, another of the essential plans of the city of Porto.

Tips for a perfect trip to Oporto

As a first recommendation and to avoid wasting time on your arrival in Porto, I advise you to check the different transfer options from the airport as there are several ways to get to the center of the Portuguese city.

On the other hand, to help you with the organization of your trip to Porto I leave below a list of the best things to do in the wonderful Portuguese city depending on the date on which you have planned the trip:

To make the most of the time of your trip I also leave you these small guides that will help you to better distribute the plans according to the days you are going to spend in Oporto:

Finally, I recommend that if you are traveling with children you should be aware of the best things to do with them. A remarkable one in this city is to reserve a day to visit the World of Discoveries, one of the best museums in Porto, but also has a great theme park where you can have an unforgettable day. I leave you here an article with all the information on how to get tickets to the World of Discoveries.